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Love for Sale and Other Essays

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This article appears from the story “For Bean" Love for Sale and Other Essays by Clifford Thompson (Autumn House Press, 2013). I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s in a semi-detached brick house in Washington, D.C. The house from which it was not detached belonged to my aunt and uncle; my great-aunt and great-uncle lived in the house on the other side of them; and still another aunt and uncle were up the street. People seldom appreciate what they have when it's there, and it is only now, living in a New York apartment surrounded ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Coleman Hawkins: The High and Mighty Hawk

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Recorded in England in 1958, this little-known session, originally released on the obscure Felsted label, is an inarguable gem. Perhaps even the word “masterpiece" is not too much of a stretch. It's doubtful that the putative “father of the tenor saxophone," Coleman Hawkins, made a better recording in the age of long-playing records, and it's just as unlikely that a better example of the impeccable touch and melodic inventiveness of the prolific Hank Jones can be found on any other recording featuring the versatile, style-resistant pianist.

Jazz history books frequently use Hawkins to exemplify the “harmonic" approach to ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

In Europe: London, Paris & Brussels

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Coleman Hawkins In Europe: London, Paris & Brussels Impro Jazz 2008

In the '20s, Coleman Hawkins (1904-69) established the tenor sax as a prominent soloing option in jazz, creating the first template for the dominant sound of the instrument. The powerful tone, deep swagger and churning rococo harmonic attack of his approach continued to be an influence long after it was eclipsed by the smoother, thinner toned, more rubato style of Lester Young and the further innovations of the still-omnipresent influence of the late John Coltrane. But Hawkins was no hide-bound traditionalist; ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Coleman Hawkins: The Hawk Relaxes

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Coleman Hawkins had every right to rest on his laurels by the time of this 1961 recording. But The Hawk Relaxes finds the father of the tenor saxophone--aka Hawk or Bean--doing anything but clinging to his perch. He may no longer be soaring in search of prey but he's gliding on buoyant and vital air-streams, performing to near-perfection an all-ballad program that rewards the attentive listener at each turn.

When the history of the tenor saxophone was being written primarily by two artists--Hawkins and Lester Young--every tenor player either had memorized Hawkins' solo on the 1939 recording of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Coleman Hawkins: At Ease with Coleman Hawkins

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In this crazy run-around world where we never really have time to stop and appreciate all the good things in our lives, it is pretty hard to make time for Coleman Hawkins. But that is precisely why it is so important to do so. They really never invented a saxophone player better than him, and very few musicians have ever gotten closer to what jazz is supposed to be.

At Ease with Coleman Hawkins, originally released in 1960, is like a 42-minute journey into Zen simplicity, with a touch of sexy swagger on the side. Many people today have forgotten ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Coleman Hawkins: Body and Soul Remixed!

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This release seems likely to re-open a heated debate and cause controversy. Should classic and famous jazz performances--such as Hawk's “Body and Soul --be treated with reverence and respect and be left in peace? Or can they be used as source material for further explorations, however remote from the mood and spirit of the original? Yes, I know this is not a new debate (or a particularly fruitful one?). One only has to think of the animated reaction to Bill Laswell's Panthalassa and its sequel, Panthalassa: The Remixes, which certainly generated more heat than light!

One thing is certain, the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Coleman Hawkins: The Hawk Flies High

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Many of the great improvisers from the swing era were unable to hurdle the bebop fence into relevance in the fifties, but Coleman Hawkins continued to create worthwhile records up until the end of his life. How? Not by changing his style to suit the times, but by demonstrating that his approach could fit into a variety of contexts. Thus he was able to gig with Coltrane and Monk where others might have faltered. But Hawkins also continued to lead sessions, often with the benefit of selecting the sidemen himself.

The Hawk Flies High, recorded in 1957, was the first ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Coleman Hawkins: The Centennial Collection

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Though it won't get the attention of the recent Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong centennials, the 100th anniversary of Coleman Hawkins' birth, coming up on November 21, certainly warrants celebration from jazz fans. Dubbed the “father of the tenor saxophone," Hawkins was a vital force on the jazz scene for five decades, moving through the swing era to bebop and beyond. Bluebird's “Centennial Collection" begins and ends, appropriately enough, with two renditions of the tune Hawkins is most associated with, the lush ballad “Body and Soul," (the classic 1939 version and a 1956 recording with a 24-piece ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Coleman Hawkins and Chu Berry: Coleman Hawkins and Chu Berry: Tenor Giants

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Coleman Hawkins and Chu Berry: Tenor Giants offers first rate performances of a familiar master and introduces to many the small group recordings of a tenor who shared solo time with Lester Young in the Count Basie Band. This GRP reissue features two Coleman Hawkins sessions, of 1940 and 1943, and two Chu Berry recordings, of 1938 and 1941. In addition to the headliners' outstanding tenor solo work, outstanding trumpet work of either Roy Eldridge, Cootie Williams or “Hot Lips" Page grace the four different sessions.

The most striking session is the 1940 “Chocolate Dandies" session that features an inspired ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Burrell with Coleman Hawkins: Bluesy Burrell

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This is the third Prestige album Burrell made with Coleman Hawkins, each with a different mood. The first, SOUL, was a gentle small group session with a nice version of “Greensleeves". The next, the underrated THE HAWK RELAXES, was a graceful ballad set, originally for the Moodsville label. This record was also for Moodsville, but this mood is sad, contemplative, and at times gentle. It's also the last Hawkins session for Prestige. He clearly enjoys playing with Burrell, as much as you'll enjoy playing the record.

Without knowing the production details, this sounds much more organized than a lot of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Coleman Hawkins, Bill Evans Trio and Gene Ammons: JVC Audiophile Reissues

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COLEMAN HAWKINS Good Old Broadway (JVC)BILL EVANS TRIO At Shelly's Manne-Hole (JVC)GENE AMMONS Boss Tenor (JVC)

Fantasy has been pretty good about licensing titles it owns to labels that put out audiophile CDs, including DCC and JVC. The sound quality is superb on these three audiophile versions of titles that originally came out on Riverside and Prestige catalogues and are presently owned by Fantasy.

Toward the end of his life, Coleman Hawkins sunk into an emotional abyss and drank himself to death. But Hawk's breathy tenor still sounded great on January 2, 1962, when he entered the studio with pianist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Coleman Hawkins: On Broadway

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A generous 76-minute CD, Coleman Hawkins On Broadway contains 1962 recordings originally heard on three LPs: Good Old Broadway, Coleman Hawkins Plays Make Someone Happy From Do Re Mi and The Coleman Hawkins Quartet Plays The Jazz Version Of No Strings. All of the songs Hawk interprets were from Broadway plays, and everything boasts the sparkling Tommy Flanagan on piano, Major Holley on bass and Eddie Locke on drums. Fast-tempo aggression isn't a priority here--instead, the seminal tenor saxman brings a relaxed confidence to standards like “The Sweetest Sounds," “Make Someone Happy" and “Get Out Of Town." Comfortable tempos are ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Coleman Hawkins: Desafinado - Coleman Hawkins Plays Bossa Nova & Jazz Samba

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One of the great albatrosses around the neck of the recording industry has been the forced recording of ill-conceived “novelty" recordings. As far back as recorded music goes, artists have been forced, cajoled, and manipulated into making recordings that some marketing genius decided would “cash in" on a fad or hot idea. Often, the music called for in these projects is completely different from what the artist usually played; more often than not, these projects turned out to be failures, artistically and financially.

It was with such an expectation that I picked up Desafinado (Subtitled - Coleman ...



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